The Prodigal Son Returns to Jonesboro, and We Must Prepare the Fatted Calf

Corey Rucker returns to Arkansas State after spending a season at South Carolina

In his one season with the Gamecocks, wide receiver Corey Rucker recorded exactly one reception. As far as receptions go, it was pretty good – “Ruckeresque” you might say. It was a 52-yard sideline catch for a touchdown, punctuated by Rucker bouncing off the ground and playing some rad air guitar.

After that, well, life offers plenty of lemons. Rucker suffered a foot injury in August workouts. In November, the junior wideout opted for surgery, officially ending his season. Per his nature, Rucker was not without a sense of humor about the setback.

In his last season at Arkansas State (and Butch Jones’ first), Rucker caught 59 passes for 826 yards and nine touchdowns. Along with battery-mate Jeff Foreman, Rucker was thought to be the next great Red Wolves wide receiver – following the path paved by Omar Bayless and Jonathan Adams. However, at the end of the 2021 season, Rucker opted to test the new paradigm created by the Transfer Portal and NIL Eras. In August of 2021, Rucker announced he was headed to South Carolina to join QB Spencer Rattler, head coach Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks.

Even as a Gamecock, Rucker never removed his eye from the Red Wolves, often retweeting and commenting on Arkansas State movements and players on Twitter. This seems part of his character. As a Red Wolf, Rucker was among the program’s most prolific cheerleaders, often seen rooting on the university’s various programs with his trademark enthusiasm.

What does a year-wiser Corey Rucker offer to Butch Jones and the Red Wolves? What kind of shape is the wide receiver after having endured foot surgery? Is Corey Rucker the ideal conduit for leading a young wide receiving squad? Regardless of his shape, Rucker’s return is a positive development for a Red Wolves athletics program in need of a spiritual boost. His reasons for coming back to Jonesboro are his own. If there is a “grass is not always greener” cautionary tale to be told, it will be his to tell. Until then, let us welcome back this prodigal son.